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Solar Panels
Episode 6229th January 2023 • Tech Talk with Amit & Rinat • Amit Sarkar & Rinat Malik
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With the recent energy crisis in Europe and many other nations, becoming energy independent has become very important. One of the most easiest ways to do that is to install solar panels in your house. Imagine sunlight meeting your electricity needs. It's crazy to think about this but even satellites use this form of energy to power themselves. But have you wondered how it works and how much it costs?

In this week's talk, Amit and Rinat talk about Solar Panels, how it works, where is it used, installation and a lot more!

Transcripts

Rinat Malik:

Hi, everyone. Welcome to Tech Talk, a podcast where Amit and I talk about various topics related to technology. Today's topic is going to be a very known one but it may not be very known technology that goes behind so we're going to talk about solar panels today. A lot of us knows solar panels maybe a lot of you already have solar panels on your rooftop or have seen someone using it and have heard good things I'm sure. But the technology that goes behind it is actually pretty incredible and quite a innovative one. Quite, you know, how do I read like it very new chapter in terms of renewable energy because, yeah, converting light energy to electricity that is a very likely useful conversion, and that's what we're going to talk about in more detail today. Hopefully you guys will get a lot of value out of it. And yeah, look forward to get all of your feedback after this. So, Amit yeah thank you for coming up with this topic solar panels. I'm actually also very interested to know more about it. What tell give us a bit of introduction on it for us.

Amit Sarkar:

So, thanks a lot, Rinat, for that introduction. And welcome everyone to this podcast. So today we are talking about solar panels and why solar panels right now. So recently, the energy prices have increased quite a lot specially in the UK, and people are looking at alternative sources of energy to power their houses. In UK we normally use predominantly two forms of energy one is electricity for our day to day usage and gas for heating our houses and for hot water. Some new build houses they use electricity for the heating as well as well as for the hot water. But most of the old Victorian houses that are still in use. One of the houses in which I am living is also old. So, we use gas for heating and gas costs a lot of money. So, I was recently looking at options of how do I switch to solar panels and generate my own electricity because sometimes what happens is you take energy from a supplier and that supplier then decides to raise the prices of energy. So, per the unit rate goes up say it's 12 p per 12 pence per kilowatt per day. So, if I use a sorry, not 12, 12 p per kilowatt, not per day, so if I use a 2000 kilowatts, or 1000 kilowatts in a month, I'll pay 1000*12 P. So that's the amount of money that I'll be paying to the energy provider. Now instead of that, if I generate my own electricity, then I don't pay anything to the supplier. Of course, there is a initial investment from my end in order to install everything but I am now free from the grid. We have already covered a topic on that the electric grid. So, if people are interested in that they can listen to that podcast and maybe we can provide a link to that as well. But essentially the idea behind a solar panel is to become independent, become free from the grid, but it will only be effective if you're using a lot of electricity if your consumption is very low, then maybe going for so much investment upfront and in getting solar panels may not be that cost effective for you in the long run. So yeah, I mean, that's the whole idea behind why I thought about solar panels and why I suggested this topic because recently I went through a code with energy provider and I thought okay, let me see how much it costs. And it cost about 15,000 pounds for getting 12 solar panels installed on my house. But over the podcast we'll discuss like what what's the setup like how its installed, what it takes, and what are the different challenges etc etc.

Rinat Malik:

Yeah, I mean, to us, I haven't looked into installing solar panels myself. I live in apartment; I don't have that opportunity. But I mean, I am passionate about renewable energy. And I know I mean, you mentioned one of the benefits of you know, as own individual consumption, but there are so many other also benefits that there are with solar panels. First of all, as you said, like if your consumption is low, I think I don't know if it's allowed in the UK but in some countries, you can actually provide the additional electricity that's generated to the grid. If not just provide you can sell it to the grid and then get additional income out of it as well if you if you if you did the initial investment and here in UK the installation charge and the purchase price is actually quite high. But in there are many other countries, you know, especially third world countries, I think that's heavily subsidized in many ways by UN or the government there so you could actually potentially get solar panels for a lot cheaper, which might actually be a lot more worth it for considering solar panels. So, I wouldn't really ask that. Yeah, I mean, there are so many benefits, but as an individual you have benefit of saving money. And as well as generating some money if it comes to it on rare occasions so definitely something to look into for anyone who is and the way the energy prices. I mean it's going up in UK but it's a global phenomena everywhere. The energy prices are going up and we'll keep going up over the years and decades so it's and solar panel is one of those investments that will once you install it, it will serve you for over multiple decades. I know that someone has been having it for 20 years. So, it definitely is a good investment from a financial perspective. But also, if we think about the environmental factors as well. It's a source of renewable energy with you know very low carbon emission of you know, what kind of money it takes to it to produce it, but then after that there is there is no carbon emission at all. So, there are many, many benefits from financial perspective as well as from an environmental perspective as well. So definitely a point to be aware of, and this is not one of those where we just say oh this is to be aware of but this is something to also look into and see if you can apply it in your life and make the world a better place. As well as your bank account.

Amit Sarkar:

Absolutely. And I think yeah, so then a couple of points that you mentioned and you touched upon, one is supplying back to the grid. So in UK you can supply back to the grid, but it's not that caught it's cost effective because you have the unit rate is 812 P or C 13 P but when you supply it back to the grid, you pay about five p so you don't get a lot of money for the amount of electricity you're supplying. So, it's not that cost effective. So, the solution is you store it in your battery. Because he when you install a solar panel, the solar panels generate electricity using the sun sunlight. So that means it will work only during the day. When there is actual sunshine in the night it won't generate electricity. So, suppose you're generating excess electricity in the day especially in UK when you have long summer hours, the sunset somewhere around 10pm In some parts of the UK. So then what you can do is you can recharge your battery or store that excess electricity in a battery and use that overnight or over the next couple of days because you have stored it. So that's a one way to like offset. I mean if you don't want to sell it back to the grid. That's one way where you can overcome the benefits or the loss of income if you supplied back to the grid. The other thing that you mentioned is the cost. So, the cost upfront cost is quite high in the UK. Yes, you're right. But there are finance options available. So, you can get the whole setup installed. And you pay over the period of say next four or five years you pay say a deposit of 1000 pounds and the rest of it you pay a monthly installment over the next four to five years. The only benefit in UK is that you don't pay any VAT on the installation and the whole thing, the material as well as the installation there is no VAT part. So, VAT is Value Added Tax. It's very specific to UK. Other countries have different forms of taxation. So, the only benefit from the government right now today is that they don't charge any VAT if you get to install the solar panel so yeah, so that's the that's the I think economics behind it. When it comes to the environment. I think it's really good for the environment because firstly you are generating your own electricity. You are generating it from a renewable source and you are not generating any emissions from it so you're not you're consuming gas, etc, etc. The materials itself they come from they are generated using fossil fuels which Renault has mentioned, but that's the only carbon emission that's generated because of the material and because of the manufacturing process. But once you get it installed, whatever energy you generate, it's clean energy. So it's actually quite beneficial. Plus, as I already mentioned, it's you're independent from the grid. So, which is again a very important benefit. And apart from that, I think it's good. If you are in a country where there's a lot of sunshine. So, in UK, very have a lot of rain, a lot of snow, a lot of I mean a mix of weather, the energy generation over the years, maybe a bit up and down. But say you live in a country where there's a lot of sunshine and very the weather is quite predictable. I think it it's really beneficial because then you then you know that you will generate this much amount of electricity every single day. And, and based on your consumption, you can calculate how many solar panels you need. And then that's it and then you are completely free to free from paying for your electricity needs.

Rinat Malik:

Yes, that is actually a very interesting idea. And we could actually expand this idea a little bit more and I do I mean, maybe we can talk about it in another episode about how to have a fully self-sufficient home. So if we take a home as a unit of you know, consumption, you could design your home in such a way that it's so energy efficient that you're nearly independent with all kinds of energy consumption, not just electricity, but everything that happens like for example, as you said, UK it's not very good for solar energy, but it rains all the time. So, you know, you could potentially have rainwater collection system. And then if you had, you know, most of the houses have, well, this is another topic but yeah, you could have like hot water pipe laid down underneath the flooring, and that would also heat up your room and things like that. So, in terms of renewable energy, there is a lot of ideas are nowadays coming up even more to make you fully independent from the grid, essentially and electricity is one of our main you know, consumption in terms of energy. So yeah, solar panels is one of the best ways to do it. But there are even other ways to even collect more electricity. One of the things I mean, I want to I want to start going inside the science behind it, I mean, we've talked about the finance or the financial side of it, but let's talk a little bit about the science behind solar panels or renewable energy. In general, to begin with. I mean, let's start with the although if we go all the way back to the laws of thermodynamics, right. I don't know which law it is. But the one of the laws I think a very important one is the entropy never decreases. It's always increasing. And from that perspective, we if we also see about all of our human activities, where you know, everything that we do requires us to convert energy for from one form to another and some energies are difficult to convert, like heat energy, it's really really difficult to convert. That's why it was such a big deal when steam engine was invented because that was a way to convert heat, you know from coal burning to actual kinetic energy, which was, you know, new chapter in energy conversion. Now, obviously, in our modern age is in the last 20 or 30. Yes, we realized that those energy conversions had a negative effect. On our world on Earth. And that's when we started looking at renewable energy and solar panels is one of the one of the first ones that became commercialized because it was so good. And so, when we talk about renewable energy, we want to convert it, but what are the what are the sources out there, there is sun there is wind, and then there is water movement in the sea or in rivers etc. So, water and air they both kinetic energy, and we have to then, you know, move something in order to do it but converting light or solar energy into electricity. That's a whole different concept altogether. And as far as I know, I haven't read too much detail into it. But inside the solar panels, each of these panels have chemicals. It's basically a chemical reaction that happens when it's exposed to light. And I think it doesn't have to be just lighting it kind of needs a bit of heat as well, in order for it to have that chemical reaction go through properly or may be maybe I'm wrong on that one correctly. But yeah, the conversion of light to electricity is is just a very unique invention. And it's very, very hard to put it like a game changer in terms of renewable energy conversion. And, yeah, I mean, if there is anything else to sort of explain in terms of the science behind it, I'm actually interested to know myself.

Amit Sarkar:

Yeah, thanks. Thanks Rinat . First of all, I would like to touch on a couple of points in terms of renewable energy. So, you talked about solar. You talked about wind and you talked about tidal so or hydroelectric. So, these are the few forms of energy sources that the renewable energy sources that we as humans have used over the millennia. Solar panel. I mean, we think that it's the first one but actually we have used windmills much before. So, windmills have been there much longer. And they have been used for various purposes. So we have harnessed source the wind energy much earlier than maybe solar panels, solar energy, because for that we needed some kind of we needed to understand the physics and the chemistry or the materials. So, wind was one of the first energy that was harnessed and the the reason why we want to move towards renewable is because we want to reduce the carbon emission. But why has it been such a struggle? This it has been a struggle, because the renewable sources of energy are not that reliable. So, you will not have wind all day, not all days of the year. Sometimes you have sunlight, sometimes you have rain, sometimes you have snow. So that's also not reliable. And tidal energy, well, tidal is quite reliable, but you have to go out where there is a huge tidal difference. If there is the tidal ranges are not that high, then you may not be able to generate enough electricity. So those are some of the challenges. So that's the problem. Of generation then the next problem is storage. So when you talk about storing electricity, you need a battery. When we talk about fossil fuels, you just store the fuel and you burn it. So the storage is the fuel itself, and then you burn it in an engine and that generates power that this then convert it into electricity. So, electricity is more or less a byproduct of any energy conversion process. So be it a steam engine, be it fossil fuel engine gas, gasoline engine, beat anything, we end up with electricity, so we want to generate electricity in the end. And the electrification of our society is what is currently happening. So, we want to electrify everything that is currently dependent on fossil fuels. So, suppose you use electricity for heating, you want to electrify that, suppose you use Sorry, sorry, not electricity. You use gas for heating. You want to electrify that. Suppose you use gas for cooking, you want to electrify that. Suppose you use gas for manufacturing steel, you want to electrify that. Now, the question is how do you get that electricity, so you could get it from the renewable sources or you could get it from nuclear, but there are these sources. So those are all the sources now let's go back to the science. So yes, it is a bit magical. With when you see something, something moves, that's kinetic energy, and that gets converted into electricity in one way or the other. But with light, what do you do? So basically, light is made up of photons. So those are the fundamental particles of light and they carry with them energy. So, what happens is and we are not harnessing the energy of the photons, so what happens is, the solar panels are made of a material, a specific material, say for example, silicon. So, the light hits the panel. When the light hits the panel, it knocks off an electron. So that electron is free to move when an electron is free to move. And there are many electrons that are free to move. And the movement of electron is basically electricity. So that generates electricity. So the moment a photon, knocks off an electron falls on a panel and knocks off an electron that generates electricity go ahead.

Rinat Malik:

So, no, I'm i This is so fascinating. I mean, I'm actually really interested to learn about it as well. I don't know if you if you know this as well. But yeah, this is just a counter question is why does it have to be this particular material? Why does you know whatever photon hits any material, should it not bounce off an electron or especially metal?

Amit Sarkar:

I don't think it'll convert electricity that easily. If it is some other material because sunlight is knocking sorry, sunlight is falling on many other sources. It's falling on our on our skin. It's falling on last weeks. It's falling on metals, it's falling on stones, but I think there are specific materials, where the electron can be easily knocked off by a photon because you have to bear in mind that some electrons might be very tightly coupled, and they might need a higher energy to get knocked off. So that's why I'm guessing it's an assumption. People are free to do their own research. But from what I've read, is that photons if they fall on this specific material, which are used in solar panels, then it knocks off the electron. That knocking off is basically movement of an electron and that movement generates electricity, but that electricity cannot be used directly. So that electricity has to then travel through a wire and it has to go to an inverter because whatever electricity you're generating, that's direct current. So, we have spoken before earlier talks like the difference between DC and AC and that and in our house. Everything is powered by alternating current. So, we have to convert that DC Direct current into alternating current. So, we have an inverter. So that inverter, then converts the electricity and then gives it back to our house. So, it doesn't give it back to her house directly. Maybe it charges a battery, maybe it's connected to the fuse box, or some source where the supplies coming. So, if you have excess electricity, you can send it back to the grid. Or you can send it to the battery. So you have the solar panel light falling on the solar panel. The solar panel generates electricity, it comes to an inverter. The inverter converts the DC to AC and then that gets sent to your supply. So, the fuse box and then from there, it gets circulated to the house. If you generate extra, it goes to a battery. If you generate even more, and if you don't want to charge your battery, you send it back to the grid so this is the complete cycle for a solar panel setup in your house. Now, I mean, there might be different configurations, but this is the most basic. So, you have to install it. You have to have these particular things and then you can generate electricity and that's basically the science behind the solar panel.

Rinat Malik:

Right Okay, that's really interesting to know. And, yeah. I'm actually quite fascinated and I'll probably do more research after this because it's such a such an interesting topic, the actual science behind what's happening and maybe, you know, I'll ask the audience to also do it, maybe you'll come up with even better way of doing or improving the current technique because that that has been, you know, the technology for a while now. So, yeah, it's probably various probably room for more and more improvement. And I see in terms of renewable energy sector, there are new designs coming up all the time with wind turbines or hydroelectric sort of the design of it so there might be better designed for solar panels as well. And yeah, it would probably take you know, a curious mind to just know how it works now and then you know, if you can come up with a better one, hopefully,

Amit Sarkar:

definitely. And I think we have covered the science behind it, but there are some other aspects to the setup as well. So, when do you have to install the solar panels? So, we have covered the economics we have covered the science. Now let's look at the installation part. Like suppose you are okay with the cost you are okay with the science and you really want to go ahead and you want to get it installed. So, what are the things that you have to bear in mind? Firstly, your roof has to be at an angle if you have a flat surface. You can still install the solar panel but the solar panel has to be at an angle the reason it has to be at a particular angle is because that's how the sunlight falls on the surface and that's when it actually knocks off the electron. If it is completely flat. Then the I think the correct angle is about 45 degrees. If it is flat, then it won't work. And most of the solar panels that you've ever seen in any image, or in any movies is always at an angle and normally that's about 45 degrees. So, I don't know exactly why it is at 45 degree maybe our audience can do some research about it, but it is add normally at 45 degrees. So, suppose you have a flat roof you have an installation, then it will have to be configured at 45 degrees. If you have a roof that is inclined then of course, it can be installed there. So, in order to install in a roof if you have flat roof, you can maybe easily climb through stairs. If you have an inclined roof you will have to get a scaffolding. So, people will have to install some scaffoldings which are nothing but steel bars around the walls and then it's installed on the roof. Now you have to look at how the sun moves. The sun normally rises from the east and sets in the west. So, you want to capture as much light as possible throughout the day. So, you don't want to be stuck up in one particular location of the sorry, not location that direction. Because if your house if your roof is not getting sunlight throughout the day, then the energy output will be less. You can still get a solar panel but the output will be less or you can get a lot of solar panels. So that you get enough output because but you're limited because you are having only one direction for the sun. But suppose you have the coverage right from the day to the from the sunrise to the sunset. Then it's much more advantageous. So, you have to look at the location of your house how the sun moves for your house and is your roof getting enough sunlight throughout the day. So, suppose if you have an inclined roof, maybe on one side you can install, say six solar panels on the other side you can install other six solar panels. So, like in the day you will get sunlight on one side and the evening you will get sunlight on the other side. So, you basically compensate and you generate electricity throughout the day, at least till the sunshine is available. So that's another thing to bear in mind. Now cleaning. So, most of the sudden panels, solar panels, they are self-cleaning, so nothing actually sticks on it. So, if rain falls, it will because it's at an inclination. It just falls down. If there is snow, it doesn't stick it falls down. Dust I think dust also, from what I've read, the maintenance is very minimum. The dust would settle on the solar panels so it won't impact the output. The only thing that might impact is bird and bird poo. Because birds might create a nest around your solar panel because birds like covered areas so birds might create nest so there are special protection for the solar panels for I mean which prevent the birds from coming in and creating a nest, but then the problem is poor. So, a bird is flying over a sort of ballot and they drop poo. So that part becomes covered. So that needs that might need cleaning. So those are some of the things that you need to bear in mind. Now Renard mentioned that you need heat or you need a light actually don't need heat. The thing is, solar panels have to operate at between a certain temperature. If it is above a certain temperature the efficiency goes down. You might have noticed that they always say that you always use or electrical gadgets in an optimum temperature environment. So, like if you use a laptop, they say don't go beyond say 40 or 50 degree in a room because if it goes beyond that your laptop may not perform because it will get overheated. It will not be able to get rid of the heat and it will stop working. So same with the solar panels. If it gets above a certain temperature, the efficiency goes down it will still generate electricity but it will not generate at 100%. So, so that's one thing to bear in mind. Now when it comes to light. It doesn't have to be the light when it's clear sky it can be light when it's cloudy skies. Well, it's looking for a particular type of radiation and if if sorry, not radiation, a particular frequency of light that can pass through clouds as well. So looking for that if that falls on the surface, it will still generate electricity. So even if it's a cloudy day it will generate electricity. So, we don't have to worry about whether it's a cloudy day, whether it's a sunny day, etc. So those are some of the things now you have to think about where you will install the battery. Do you install it inside the house or outside the house? Because batteries say a six kilowatt to nine-kilowatt bar battery will take a lot of space plus the additional cost of wiring because you'll have to create the wire install the wire through the house to your fuse box. And then the wire also goes to the electricity. The battery the wires go to the inverter. So you need space for inverter space for the battery so you have to consider that where you would get it installed. Normally in UK people tend to install it in the garage or in the loft. So loft is a space which is below the inclined surface where there are normally no rooms and that's where you install your inverter and battery. So depending upon the size of your house and the shape of your house, and the possible aspect of where you want to store it, you'll have to think about where you store all these things. So, when you go for actual installation, the installation itself could take about two to three days. The solar panel will take some time the inverter is the installation of the inverter the installation of the battery, the cabling will take some time. So, all that will depend on the shape of your house and the location. If your house is at a location where you are getting sunshine throughout the day, then you will have to install solar panels on either side. So, you get enough sunshine. If not, then it's just one side. But you might have to install a lot of solar panels plus based on your electricity bill. They will calculate like okay; this is your consumption on a yearly basis. So, you will need this much based on your consumption. So, say your consumption is 2000 kilowatts. They will calculate like how many solar panels you would need and each solar panel generates a 400 Watts to 600 Watts and based on that they will calculate whether you need 10 panels, 12 panels 13 vitamins etc. So, based on all these factors, they will come up with the number of solar panels and how much capacity of battery you need. So normally if you are having if you're consuming say two kilowatt or six kilo or I mean to say 2000 kilowatt, I'm just giving a rough number then not 2000 kilowatt sorry, some maybe less 2000 kilowatt is a maybe a lot. But say you're generating 2000 kilowatt and then you want to store some excess electricity, you will need more capacity than your solar capacity. So, your say your solar capacity is to say 6.5-kilowatt total. Then you might need a battery for say nine kilowatts so you can store some excess electricity. So, you have to consider all that when you are going for a solar panel installation.

Rinat Malik:

right okay. Okay, this is this is actually because I've never actually had to go through this i i never actually had this opportunity to learn this information but this is actually really good and now you've made me also more interested in when I when I do own a house eventually hopefully I will definitely consider this as one of the first things to install because it definitely I mean there is no doubt that it's a good investment because it stays for a really long time with very minimal maintenance. But it will generate or save money and there is no escaping using you know electricity at home. So, yeah, this is I cannot think of a better investment on your, you know day to day expenses and consumption etc. So, when I you know have a house I will that's one of the first thing I'll be looking at. And if there is financing available that makes it even more easier to help with this installation. So yeah, I'm actually very encouraged and interested to look into it further and potentially install it when I have the opportunity.

Amit Sarkar:

So I think it's a really good idea and even I want to install it but I think I was so I didn't decide to go with the solar panel installation right now because my usage of electricity is quite low compared to the size of my house, but my usage of gas is quite high. So, I need to first figure out how to reduce my gas consumption. So maybe electrify my boiler, my heating and the cooking part. So, then I can move on to solar panels because if I just move on to solar panel now, I'm not consuming that much electricity, so the upfront cost is quite a lot and I will not recover that money soon. So, think of solar panels like this. If you use a lot of energy in terms of electricity, then you're spending a lot of money. If you spend that money on solar panel, and you reek and you are generating enough electricity, then whatever money you're spending to the to yours for your supplier, you can offset that so you will recover your cost much quicker. But if you're spending less on your electricity, then the because of the upfront costs being so high you will take more years. So say if you if a person consumes above average electricity, they might recover the costs in say five years. Whereas if I consume below average, that I would take seven to eight years. So based on the consumption, you have to see how much time it will take for you to recover the investment that you're made on a solar panel and solar panels. are now quite expensive. There is a cost of the material. So the materials, the solar panel itself, the wiring, the inverter, the battery, and then the cost of the installation. So, people will have to come to your house and they will install it. There is a cost of scaffolding because they will have to go to the roof. So, they need some support. So that's an additional cost. So, you have to bear that in mind. And when I was telling you about the 2000-Watt kilowatt calculation, so it's done basically, if you consume say six kilowatts, and you per day and then you multiply it by 300, so that's 1800 kilowatts. So, if you multiply it by 360, it's roughly about 2000. So, 2000 kilowatt is a rough estimation. So that's how I was just while talking. I realized that's how the calculation is done. So that's how you arrive at that figure of 2000 kilowatts for a year. And that's what you need to check when you check your bill because the bill will give you an estimate about based on the current consumption how much electricity you are supposed to build will you use in the future or in that particular year, and that will give you a good idea about how much capacity you need. Now the thing is, once you install the solar panel, you cannot keep on adding panels. So, the only thing you can do is increase the capacity of your battery. That's easy, rather than installing solar panels.

Rinat Malik:

I was literally just about to ask you this that okay, I my consumption is not very much now but in future it might become so why don't I just install as much as I need now and then I'll extend it is that not possible? And then he just said that it's not well why is that?

Amit Sarkar:

So basically, when you install, you will look at how many people are currently living in the house and how many people are planning to live in the house for the next 20 or 30 years. That's the lifespan of one solar panel before you try to get it replaced. So, suppose you are three people on average and you have guests. So based on the electric consumption, it would say that okay, your needs are currently 2000 kilowatts, but your needs can exceed to say 3000 kilowatts and 3000 kilowatts is 1000 kilowatt is a lot extra right. So, you estimate based on that, so, you add say a bit more on the usage. So, if you have 2000 You add say 2500 Or you say add 3000 And then you say that okay, beyond that you will not use it. But suppose you and bear in mind. When you install a solar panel, you have to make sure that you are not redoing the house. If you redo the house, you break the house, you do an extension. It changes the whole dynamics because suddenly your consumptions will change so then you will have to take off the maybe chain the roofing etc. So, you have to be 100% sure that once you install the solar panel, you're not going to make any changes to your house, because if you do, then you have to get rid of the solar panel, or maybe reinstall it again. So that's again a cost so you don't want to do spend that money unnecessarily. So if you are in a house and you are happy with what you have and you're not planning to extend it, break it or modify it, maybe supposed as Renard mentioned he wants to add underfloor heating, underfloor heating he said hot water, hot water can be used using gas, but suppose you want to elect electrify it, then then you're suddenly consumption will go much higher. So, you have to bear that all that you have to bear all that in mind. And based on that you put an estimate once you put that estimate, the solar panels are fixed, because you don't want to again, go to the top of the roof, then add additional Cape cabling, but the best is just store the energy in a battery and then use that if you're generating. So that's the standard, but this is what I've been told by the guy who gave me a quote. I'm sure there might be better solutions, but this is from my experience and I'm talking based on that.

Rinat Malik:

Yeah, I mean, obviously solar panel. There are so many use cases for solar panels and you know, one of the main is the domestic one where individuals put it on the roof, but there are industrial use cases as well. I think Elon Musk is sort of putting a massive like, field of solar panels and I've seen this happen in China as well. So, what else what other ways are solar panels used Amit ?

Amit Sarkar:

So solar panels can be used to power plants. So, if you have a large enough area, solar panels can be used for heating purposes. So, you can heat water and you can generate steam, etc. So solar panels on Earth are used for various purposes apart from domestic use. But there is another interesting application which I think people might be already aware but it's useful to know is satellites. So, when we send something in space outer space, we send it via rocket and rockets are quite heavy, because the majority of the rocket weight is fueled. Now, you cannot send all the fuel for a satellite in space because the fuel will eventually run out. And you cannot send such a heavy fuel vehicle in space because then that's additional weight. So, the alternate source of energy is normally a solar panel. If you know that you are going to be close to the Sun say orbiting the planet earth or orbiting some other planet, then a solar panel is quite useful. Recently NASA sent a satellite called the James Webb Space Telescope, and it's located at Lagrange point. We'll cover that sometime maybe later. But it's basically a point at which the object is always at the same position in relative to the location of Earth and Sun. So even if the Earth and Sun moves, it's always at the same position in relation to earth and sun. But the interesting bit is that it uses a solar panel, like many of the satellites, and that is a very useful application because if you want to power something in space, or say the satellites that were dropped in, not the satellites but the rovers that were dropped in mass, they're also powered by solar panels. If you've seen the movie Martian, the guy the main actor, he spends a lot of time in cleaning the solar panel so that he can send a message back to earth so that they can rescue him. Solar panels are quite useful and in space, especially because we have not yet come up with a solution or an energy source that is compact, lightweight and can last a lot of years. I mean, there is a nuclear solution, but you will have to carry a nuclear material into space in the form of a nuclear engine or something. But solar panels are quite effective you once you open it, and then once you start charging your battery you can then use it to power anything.

Rinat Malik:

Yes, absolutely. I mean, that is such a vital use case. I mean, to be honest, this whole chapter of human advancement of space technology space exploration wouldn't happen if we didn't have solar panels. That's actually yeah, come to think about it. It's like so important and yeah, as you mentioned, like you know all the satellites around the Earth and all the all the probes and rovers we send to different planets, Moon and Mars. All of them are powered and will be powered for years to come by solar panels because that's the only viable way of energy harnessing that we know that works everywhere because light is everywhere, even though even though even if they don't have wind or anything else. We can still rely on this in deep vacate, vacate space of space. So yeah, that is that is a really interesting and very vital use case and this this reminds me I mean obviously you mentioned Martian but you the space movies that I grew up watching over there, you know the always the all the scale spacecrafts were like this is really cool looking. You know, like, you know, you see them and you think that okay, they can go very fast and that kind of fast looking design. But when I saw the first actual, you know, satellite So what are these winged objects that they don't look cool at all but those wings are the solar panels and those wings are what's making it possible and it's interesting to think that you know, when, you know, if you think of spacecraft a really high speed one you feel like it should look fast. But all the all of our intuitions about what fast looking things should look like is built upon like cars or trains, you know, like a sharper front, but that's because of wind inside Earth. But in space, there is no friction of any of these materials. So, in space, you know, satellites can be as fast as they want to be as long as they have energy and, and satellites are sorry, the solar panels are what's giving them that energy. So yeah, no matter how uncool it may look, although, you know, I would probably argue now that it looks very cool to with the solar panels. But yeah, those are the ones that are the solar panels in in spacecrafts. And yeah, it's very, very vital indeed. Thanks for bringing this up Amit.

Amit Sarkar:

And I'm guessing that the solar panels that we are currently using on planet Earth is actually because of the solar panel. Research that we have done for satellite. Because, I mean, a lot of times people ask questions about okay, what is the space research got to do? Why can we spend that money on reducing poverty on planet Earth? But they don't realize that when we try to solve such problems in space, we can actually commercialize and use it for planet Earth. I'm guessing that because of the first satellites that were sent to space that had to be powered, using sunlight, that there was a lot of research done and that was then later adapted to us on Earth. But of course, it was quite expensive that time but slowly the cost has come down because the demand has increased. But yeah, it's actually a very vital use case, which a lot of people don't think about.

Rinat Malik:

Absolutely, absolutely.

Amit Sarkar:

There's one more thing or another that I want to mention, and that's the return on investment. So, five to seven years is all depending upon the cost of the material and the cost of the installation. And depending upon what type of material you get the return on investment; you can maybe recover that money much sooner or maybe much later. And that's also based on the consumption. So, I think you have to bear that in mind. Like and how much are you using and what's the rate of energy? So, the other thing is if it is cheaper to buy from the grid, and you pay say 50 pounds per month on electricity, or say you pay 600 pounds a year on electricity, then if you multiply it by 10 years, that 6000 pounds, right? So now if you consider that the cost, the unit rate doesn't increase right, say it increases so you pay 10,000 pounds, but if a solar panel cost you 15,000 pounds, then what is cheaper, is it cheaper to buy from the grid or is cheaper to install it. So, it all depends on the unit rate of electricity of course the unit rate will go high. And because we've and there might be power cuts. So, considering all that you can think of getting a solar panel, but it's always good to know what's the unit rate, because based on the unit rate, you will decide whether you your investment is worth the money right now as on date. So, you have to think about that as well. So, I just wanted to cover that before we finished.

Rinat Malik:

Yes, no, absolutely. That is a good insight. And yeah, that is that definitely should be part of any decision-making process. But yeah, I mean, it's always good to you know, do that research and calculation and find out whether it's worth it. So yeah, definitely. A good piece of advice. This is really good information even you know, just for a personal level. To make decisions, you know, this kind of investment decisions for every individual. So, yeah, thank you very much for going through this with us in such detail. I certainly helped me and hopefully help the audience making that decision and learning about solar panels and the potential for it. So definitely would urge the audience to look into it more and potentially do consider. Consider I mean, if it's if the return on investment is five to seven years, then even if you're not sure about whether you're going to redo the house or not. But you know, you might actually not redo the house in five years. So, yeah, I mean, there is there is many there are many parameters to think about but I think overall it's definitely positive. Whenever you have that opportunity, it could suit your needs, you know, for your bespoke tailored solution but a solution it is none or the less. So yeah, hopefully you guys enjoyed this talk. And if you have any questions or if you'd like to join us for as a guest, or if you'd like us to cover any topic, do feel free to reach out our contact details are below any platform that you're listening to us in. And yeah, we look forward to hearing from you and yeah, again, audience, do feel free to reach out for any reason that you can think of. And yeah, thank you for listening to us today. And we hope to see you again next week.

Amit Sarkar:

Thank you. So much, guys. Take care. Bye

Rinat Malik:

bye